Let’s all give a nod of respect to the Game of Thrones cast members who showed up for this year’s San Diego Comic-Con on the heels of a very divisive final season. Executive producers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss were originally meant to appear on the panel — which was a pretty surprising late addition to this year’s SDCC lineup — before conspicuously backing out of it just days before the event. Amidst the sea of Thrones-themed cosplayers on hand, one notable pair included a fully garbed Night King facing off against a Daenerys Targaryen, who was stabbing him in the gut with a sword that read “STAR WARS” on the blade. The co-EPs are, of course, currently working on a Star Wars movie, and some have speculated that the final season of GoT was rushed because the two men were preoccupied with their Disney commitments. (None of which can ever be confirmed.)
Given how polarizing the final episodes were, it makes sense that Benioff and Weiss wouldn’t want to go before a proverbial firing squad in Hall H, but that left stars Isaac Hempstead-Wright, Conleth Hill, John Bradley, Maisie Williams, Jacob Anderson, Liam Cunningham, and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau to put on a good face for Thrones’ final farewell to Comic-Con audiences.
The event began with SDCC Director of Programming Eddie Ibrahim basically imploring the crowd to be nice. “Even if we disagree sometimes,” he said, drawing a loud round of jeers from the crowd, “we do love all the content that is brought to us. We do love the shows and the movies.” Ibrahim’s attempt at a preemptive strike against any Thrones anger made sense in the context of so much fan outrage at the tone of the final season, and his request for courtesy was validated when the topic of the Lannister twins was broached. In addressing the fates of Jamie and Cersei, Coster-Waldau told the crowd, “I thought it was a great ending. I thought it was perfect for him to end in the arms of Cersei. It made sense to me.” The response garnered a few boos from the crowd — audible in the clip above — and led to the actor laughing and saying, “That’s just my opinion.” One of his fellow cast members on the dais chimed in by saying, “There’s always one!”
Now, saying there’s just “one” fan who disagreed with the (one could argue) anti-climactic resolution of one of the most consequential relationships in Westeros is pretty reductive. (Bran witnessing the twincest basically set the wheels in motion for the entire saga.) After all, Lena Headey herself has said Cersei deserved “a better death,” but that didn’t stop Hill (Varys) from characterizing the loud GoT backlash as a “media-led hate campaign” during the Hall H event. By the end of the panel, the moderator told fans to line up for the customary Q&A portion of the hour, but then somewhat conveniently ran out of time before anyone could present a question to the cast.
So, if you thought the “victory lap” panel was a weird idea for HBO to go ahead with, then pat yourself on the back. You were right!